The following was included in TCTA's 2020-21 Survival Guide, the ultimate reference tool for Texas educators, and is current as of September 2020 but is subject to change.
An employee can opt for early retirement if he/she has at least 30 years of service credit but does not meet the Rule of 80, or is at least age 55 with five or more years of service.
Penalties for early retirement can be quite severe, but depend on the employee’s age, years of service credit, and whether they meet certain “grandfather” provisions established in 2005 when the penalties for early retirement were increased. Employees considering early retirement can consult with a TRS benefits counselor or use the retirement calculators on the TRS website.
If a member leaves TRS-covered employment before meeting the criteria for retirement with either full or reduced benefits, the member may withdraw the money contributed to date, plus interest earned, but will not receive an annuity. The interest earned on contributions was lowered from 5% to 2%; the lower rate applies to contributions made after Sept. 1, 2014.
Note: Any employee retiring after Aug. 31, 2005, who does not meet the Rule of 80 or have at least 30 years of service credit will not be eligible for TRS-Care, the retiree health insurance.